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VOL. 6 | NO. 6 | Saturday, February 02, 2013

Daily Digest

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Memphis Raceway Owners Buy Hot Rod Association

The ownership group of Memphis International Raceway has acquired the International Hot Rod Association from Feld Motor Sports.

The ownership group, under the corporation IHRA Entertainment LLC, takes over management immediately of what will become IHRA Motorsports.

The hot rod association is 43 years old. It sanctions more than 100 drag racing venues in North America with 12,000 racers as members.

The ownership group includes managing partners Michael Dezer of Dezer Properties, Joseph Lubeck of Landmark Apartment Trust of America Inc., Edward Kobel of DeBartolo Development, and Jason Rittenberry, president and CEO of IHRA Entertainment.

The partners bought the Memphis Motorsports Park from Dover Motorsports Inc. in 2011 and added it to a portfolio that included the old Moroso Motorsports Park in Palm Beach, Fla., in 2008.

The group recently invested $30 million in a multi-track venue in Jupiter, Fla.

UPS Quarterly Results, 2013 Outlook Miss Estimates

United Parcel Service Inc. says weak global trade and a disappointing holiday-shopping season slowed it down in the fourth quarter.

Profit in the last three months of 2012 fell short of Wall Street expectations. So did UPS’ outlook for this year as the company took a cautious approach toward the global economy.

UPS also forecast a “relatively flat” first quarter. Shares dropped 2 percent.

“Overall we still see 2013 as a slow-growth economy,” Chairman and CEO D. Scott Davis said Thursday on a conference call with analysts.

Davis said Europe was more stable than a year ago, and “in the U.S., I think we got off to a strong start in January.” But, he added, “We’re not banking on a robust economy.”

The Atlanta-based company said it expects 2013 adjusted earnings of between $4.80 and $5.06 per share. That would be an increase of 6 percent to 12 percent over 2012, but less than the $5.13 per share that analysts expected. UPS said the first quarter would be fairly flat, hurt by one less business day than in 2012.

UPS said that it lost $1.75 billion in the fourth quarter because of a $3 billion charge for pension liabilities, compared with a profit of $725 million a year earlier. Without the pension-accounting charge, UPS said that it would have earned $2.05 billion, or $1.32 per share.

Analysts expected adjusted earnings of $1.38 per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 3 percent to $14.57 billion, beating analysts’ forecast of $14.48 billion.

The company said that disruptions from Hurricane Sandy lowered earnings by 5 cents per share and money spent on the failed pursuit of Dutch delivery firm TNT Express NV cost another penny per share.

UPS increased its plan for spending on buying back its own stock this year to $4 billion from $1.5 billion.

Supermarket Wine Bill Excludes High-Alcohol Beer

A proposal to allow supermarkets and convenience stores to stock wine would continue to limit sales of high-alcohol beer and fortified wines to liquor stores.

State Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro and fellow Republican Rep. Jon Lundberg of Bristol on Thursday introduced their bill to end the exclusive right of liquor stores to sell wine in Tennessee. Grocery store sales would be limited to wine with an alcohol content of no more than 18 percent.

The measure would put the option of whether to allow wider wine sales to voters in local cities and counties. The Republican House and Senate speakers support the change.

Opponents argue the change would unfairly disrupt the existing liquor stores business, and that the measure would make higher-alcohol drinks more widely available to minors.

Private Waste Hauler, Union Settle Dispute

Union employees of a private waste disposal company are back on the job in Memphis, ending a two-day work stoppage.

Republic Services/Allied Waste Services General Manager Roger Lawrence said the company received a letter Wednesday from the Teamsters Union Local 984, stating the 180 striking employees would return for the regular shifts on Thursday.

Lawrence also said the union agreed to work on the weekend, to catch up trash collection for 200,000 residential customers and 10,000 business customers in the Memphis area.

The agreement followed a meeting between company and union representatives.

New Memphis Institute Partners With Realtors

The Memphis Area Association of Realtors Education Foundation has partnered with New Memphis Institute to offer a leadership training customized specifically for MAAR members.

The Leadership MAAR program is designed to build and develop personal leadership skills, enhance those skills through teamwork and management, and inspire participants to share their newly acquired leadership abilities with the Association and their communities.

Carol Lott, past president of MAAR, is the brainchild behind the Leadership MAAR program. She said Realtors are “ambassadors for this city” and need to be trained to be confident in that role.

The effort with MAAR helps New Memphis Institute continue to train leaders across all sectors of city to forge a vital and prosperous new Memphis.

The Leadership MAAR program kicks off Feb. 13. For more information on Leadership MAAR visit http://www.maar.org/leadershipmaar.

Jobless Aid Applications in US Rise to 368,000

The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose sharply last week but remained at a level consistent with moderate hiring.

Weekly applications for unemployment benefits leapt 38,000 to a seasonally adjusted 368,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The increase comes after applications plummeted in the previous two weeks to five-year lows. Applications fell by a combined 45,000 in the second and third weeks of January.

The volatility reflects the government’s difficulty adjusting the data to account for layoffs after the holiday shopping season. Job cuts typically spike in the second week in January as retailers dismiss temporary employees hired for the winter holidays. Layoffs then fall in the second half of the month.

The department attempts to adjust for such fluctuations but the January figures can still be volatile. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, ticked up to 352,000, just above a four-year low.

Most economists weren’t concerned by the increase.

Panera Bread Files Business License for Midtown Store

Panera Bread Co. is moving along with the build-out of its new Midtown location.

The St. Louis-based fast-casual sandwich franchise recently filed for its business license at 1961 Union Ave. with the Shelby County Clerk’s Office. The 4,588-square-foot, freestanding space formerly housed Pizza Hut, which relocated west to the Belvedere Collection shopping center.

Panera will likely open by the end of February, said Rick Postle, who owns Panera franchise rights to the Memphis area along with his wife, Rosemary, under the entity Delta Dough Inc. The location will mark Delta Dough’s eighth Panera store in the Mid-South, a market it entered more than four years ago.

Postle said the entire build-out, including rework on the building, interior layouts and equipment, and signage will top $1 million. The store will create more than 50 jobs.

Bank of Bartlett Reports Quarterly, Year-End Profits

Bank of Bartlett has reported a profit of $12.3 million for 2012 and a profit of $255,125 for the fourth quarter.

The quarterly profit marked the sixth straight quarter Bank of Bartlett has been in the black.

Among other highlights for 2012, the bank saw a 17 percent decline in non-performing assets and a 36 percent increase in new mortgage loans – $70 million in 2012, up from $45 million in 2011.

Sales Contract in Place For Nineteenth Century Club

The historic Nineteenth Century Club building at 1433 Union Ave. was auctioned off in a sealed auction by Morris Auction Group Thursday, Jan. 24.

Sam Zalowitz of Zalowitz Commercial Realty LLC represented the buyer, said Jeff Morris, Morris Auction Group president. A sales contract is in place, and the next step is to set up a closing, which can take up to 30 days.

When asked what the highest bid was, the amount of bids offered and what the buyer’s intentions are, Morris declined to comment. Zalowitz was unavailable to be reached by phone after multiple attempts.

Meanwhile, Memphis Heritage’s “Save the 19th Century Club” Facebook page posted Thursday afternoon that “unfortunately the 19 Century Club members took the money over the importance of heritage and history” and the Midtown structure will likely be razed. There were two bids, one for $550,000 and one for $350,000, and the $550,000 bid was accepted, according to the social media posting.

Built in 1890, the 15,813-square-foot house was purchased in 1926 by The Nineteenth Century Club, a philanthropic women’s organization. The three-story wood frame structure is commercially zoned and sits on 1.2 acres at Union between Kimbrough and Cleveland streets. Its 2012 appraisal from the Shelby County Assessor of Property was $664,800.

Crye-Leike Realtors Inc.’s Dick Leike and Robert Gorman previously had the Nineteenth Century Club property listed for $1.5 million. Leike told The Daily News in August that the building was structurally sound.

Countywide School Board Renews MASE Charter

The first charter school in Memphis and in the state of Tennessee had its charter renewed Tuesday, Jan. 29, by the countywide school board.

Memphis City Schools administrators had recommended non-renewal of the charter of the 10-year-old Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering based on a drop in student achievement test scores.

Leaders of the grade 6-12 school argued they had improved the deficient math scores in the intervening three years and were being judged on high school standards unfairly when the school spans middle and high school grades.

Of the school board members present, only Martavius Jones voted for the non-renewal recommendation.

Most school board members expressing an opinion said they were concerned that most of the MASE students would be attending conventional public schools in the bottom 5 percent statewide in terms of student achievement if they closed the charter school.

The renewal is for a term of 10 years, but if student achievement test scores begin to dip again and do so for two consecutive school years, the school board could abolish the charter and the school organizers would have no right of appeal. In other action, the school board approved the demolition of the old Lincoln Junior High School gymnasium in South Memphis.

2012 Most Profitable Year For Magna Bank

Last year was the most profitable year ever for Magna Bank since its founding in 1999.

Magna recorded a profit of $3.1 million in 2012, a 24 percent improvement over 2011. The bank’s assets were up 12.1 percent, loans were up 10.8 percent and deposits were up almost 10 percent.

The bank originated $22.4 million in new SBA loans. It originated $353 million in residential first mortgage loans, a 36 percent jump from 2011, and the bank originated $189 million in new commercial real estate loans in 2012.

During the fourth quarter, Magna investors got a special dividend payout of 27 cents a share.

Indie Memphis Wins GuideStar’s Seal Rating

The Indie Memphis organization has received the GuideStar Exchange Seal, a symbol of transparency and accountability provided by GuideStar USA Inc., which is a leading source of nonprofit information.

To be awarded the GuideStar Exchange Seal, Indie Memphis was required to provide key information for its nonprofit report page on www.guidestar.org.

Indie Memphis’ most recent event was the 15th annual Indie Memphis Film Festival, presented by Duncan-Williams Inc., and held Nov. 1-4 at venues that included Playhouse on the Square, the Circuit Playhouse, and Malco Theatre’s Studio on the Square.

The GuideStar Exchange is an initiative designed to connect nonprofits with current and potential supporters.

Public Relations Society Seeks Vox Award Entries

The Memphis chapter of Public Relations Society of America is calling for entries for the upcoming PRSA Vox Awards, which recognize the region’s best in PR practices.

Vox Awards honor organizations that have successfully communicated their brand and messaging through strategic communications, resourcefulness, creativity and quality expertise. The list of categories covers everything from a single blog post to multiple day events. Vox chair Christina Meek said PRSA Memphis has several categories because the communications industry encompasses so many types of jobs from social media manager, writer, media relations, marketing, videographer, event planner and more.

The early deadline for the 20th annual Vox Awards is Feb. 8 and allows entrants to pay the early pricing but turn in their entries a week later for the regular deadline, which is Feb. 15. The late deadline is Feb. 22 and comes with a late fee.

For more details on entry, visit www.prsavox.com.

Kroger Poplar Plaza to Open March 20

Kroger’s new store in Poplar Plaza shopping center is scheduled for a March 20 opening.

The 81,500-square-foot building will back up to Prescott Street and face east. It will be Kroger’s biggest store in Memphis.

The new store will include extensive bulk nutrition, Boars Head, organics, locally grown products, as well as fresh seafood and complete deli and bakery.

Kroger kicked off construction on its own building last year, a project that involved the Burlington, Mass.-based owner of Poplar Plaza, Finard Properties LLC, to reconfigure the layout of several tenants within the 360,000-square-foot center in the University of Memphis area. Upon the Kroger completion, the old Kroger will be razed for a parking lot.

Survey Shows Improving Small Business Optimism

The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index shows that business owners have regained some optimism with the start of the new year.

That’s a reversal from November, when the survey had dropped to its most pessimistic level in two years. The latest Index improved 20 points (to positive 9) in January, up from negative 11 in November.

Key drivers of the improvement in the survey, conducted Jan. 7-11, include increased business owner optimism about revenue, capital spending, jobs over the past 12 months, more optimism about overall financial situations, cash flow, and jobs over the next 12 months. A year ago, in January 2012, the Index was at positive 15.

While optimism improved from the fourth quarter, the survey paints a mixed picture with respect to jobs and hiring. More business owners (71 percent) expect the number of jobs at their companies to stay the same over the next 12 months, and business owners planning to add jobs during the same period remained unchanged at 17 percent.

Schools Needs Assessment Committee Disbanded

Shelby County Commissioners voted Monday, Jan. 28, to disband the 10-year old Needs Assessment Committee that reviewed and prioritized school construction projects for both of the county’s public school systems.

The appointed committee, which included architects and construction contractors, has not met in the last year and a half and no new appointments to the city-county body have been made because of the coming consolidation of the two school systems that begins in August.

Also at a 45-minute commission meeting Monday, the body delayed action on a resolution that is the second quarter financial statement from County Trustee David Lenoir. The commission delayed accepting the report as they await further figures from Lenoir.

Commissioners want to know whether the stable property tax rate the commission approved last spring amounted to a tax hike in terms of the revenue it produced for Shelby County government.

The numbers are part of a larger discussion the commission has had as it prepares to recertify the property tax rate following the 2013 property reappraisal.

State law says the recertified rate cannot produce a windfall of more revenue than county government made from the old tax rate. From that point, the commission then votes separately on any tax hike that might be proposed.

Metropolitan Bank Reports Year-End Earnings

Metropolitan BancGroup Inc., the holding company for Metropolitan Bank, has reported its 13th straight quarter and its fourth straight year of increased earnings.

Metropolitan saw full-year earnings of about $5.02 million for the year ending Dec. 31. The bank reported 2012 pre-tax earnings 102 percent higher than 2011 results, along with a 22 percent increase in total assets, ending the year at $722 million.

For the fourth quarter, the bank reported pre-tax earnings of about $1.7 million, a 286 percent increase over the same quarter last year. Metropolitan also reported balance sheet growth, including a 33 percent increase in deposits in 2012.

Total loans grew 17 percent in 2012, and mortgage banking revenues grew 97 percent, topping $2 million for the year.

Real Estate Leaders to Present Trends at Forecast

Real estate leaders will offer their reviews and insights for the Memphis-area commercial market at the 10th annual Commercial Property Forecast Summit starting at 8 a.m. Feb. 7 at the Germantown Performing Arts Centre, 1801 Exeter Road.

The program is presented by the Memphis Area Association of Realtors Commercial Council. Local perspectives have been expanded on from years prior and will be provided in the following areas: office – Kemp Conrad, Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors LLC; retail – Shawn Massey, The Shopping Center Group LLC; industrial – Brad Kornegay, Colliers International Asset Services; multifamily – Rick Fogelman, Fogelman Management Group LLC; land – Jim Rainer, Grubb & Ellis Memphis; financial – Jeremy Chism, First Horizon Capital Markets; Memphis – Tommy Pacello, Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team.

The summit’s keynote presenter will be K.C. Conway, executive managing director of market analytics, valuation and advisory services, for Colliers International. From 2005-2010 Conway worked in the Federal Reserve System in multiple capacities and in 2007 he received a Presidential Recognition Award by the Appraisal Institute.

During the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Conway briefed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the Board of Governors, Federal Reserve District bank presidents and real estate industry groups on market issues and trends.

A question-and-answer session will follow Conway’s presentation. The cost is $50 for MAAR Commercial Council members and $70 for the general public.

Advance registration is required; for more information go to maar.org/commercialsummit.

Tight Inventory Slows US Pending Home Sales

A measure of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell last month after reaching a 2 1/2-year high in November. Sales were held back by a limited supply of available homes.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales dropped 4.3 percent in December from November to 101.7. That’s still 6.9 percent higher than a year ago.

The decline signals that sales of previously occupied homes may cool off in the coming months. There’s generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale.

Still, the broader trend in home sales remains solid. Completed sales of previously occupied homes rose last year to their highest level in five years, one of many signs of recovery in the housing market last year. And the Realtors’ group forecasts that sales will rise 9 percent this year, as the recovery strengthens. Other economists have similar forecasts.

Stable job gains and record-low mortgage rates have encouraged more people to buy homes. And a tight supply of homes for sale has pushed up prices and made builders more confident to step up construction.

Tennessee Prosecutors Outline Legislative Agenda

Tennessee prosecutors are pushing for changes to the law that they say will aid the prosecution of serial child sexual abusers.

Guy Jones is deputy director of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference. He said in a news release that prosecutors want to be able to have one trial for sex abusers who commit crimes in multiple counties instead of separate trials in each county. The proposed change is part of the group’s legislative agenda this year.

They also want to increase the minimum amount of time that must be served before a prisoner is eligible for parole in cases of aggravated child neglect and attempted first-degree murder where there are serious bodily injuries.

New Executive Director Tapped for Economic Club

The Economic Club of Memphis has a new executive director.

Dr. Christine Jiang succeeds Dr. David Kemme as executive director of the club. She begins her duties immediately.

Jiang has served on the University of Memphis faculty since 2001. She’s currently interim chair and professor in the department of finance, insurance and real estate.

The new Executive Committee of the Economic Club consists of Don Hutson, club president and a professional speaker as well as CEO of U.S. Learning LLC; Michael Drury, vice president and chief economist at McVean Trading and Investments LLC; David Waddell, secretary-treasurer and president and CEO of Waddell & Associates; and Kris Matula, immediate-past president and the retired president of Buckeye Technologies Inc.

Diversified Trust Makes Seven Promotions

Memphis-based wealth management firm Diversified Trust has announced seven promotions.

Being promoted to senior vice president are Jo Len Clark and Marcus Lewis. Melissa Schilling has been promoted to vice president. And being promoted to senior associate are Tim Dudas, Amy Hudson, Megan Mayhew and Hadley Miller.

Diversified Trust was founded in 1994. It has more than $4.5 billion in client assets.

Unemployment Recipients Can Get Tax Info Online

People who got state unemployment benefits last year can access online the forms they need for income tax purposes.

The documents are called IRS Form 1099-Gs. There is a link to them from the home page of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development: www.tennessee.gov/labor-wfd.

Benefit recipients can access the forms by entering their birth date or the PIN they used to certify or inquire on their unemployment claim.

The department also began mailing the 1099-G forms to more than 245,000 benefit recipients on Jan. 14.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 56 212 11,977
MORTGAGES 68 295 15,645
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 57 3,080
BUILDING PERMITS 0 606 28,832
BANKRUPTCIES 81 291 11,598
BUSINESS LICENSES 29 102 4,257
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 89 428 17,611
MARRIAGE LICENSES 20 81 3,645

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